January 9 2008 Native American Newsletter
Welcome To Nevada!
Hello. Osiyo, and Happy New Year to everyone!
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I live in the great state of Nevada, home of the Northern Paiute tribe. The Northern Paiute
have been in this area since long before 1825, when the first Europeans began coming here as
trappers. There has been little change in the culture of the Paiute even though other
cultures inhabited close by. Their life was that of hunters and gatherers. The great
influx of settlers during the discovery of the Comstock lode at Virginia City, NV, was very
disrupting to the tribe's way of life. Along with the people came their livestock which
were allowed to graze over the lands, destroying their native food plants. Pinyon trees, a
source of edible nuts, were cut down to be used as firewood by the settlers, depleting a
choice food source. When the railroads came through in 1869, that just about ended the
Paiute's way of life. However, the Northern Paiute, as all other tribes today, are strong
and proud and have survived to carry on their culture, spirituality and crafts that their
ancestors have passed on to them.
The Paiute occupy all the area around Pyramid Lake which is beautiful and has many
mysterious legends and attributes assigned to it. The lake, on a clear summer's day can be
absolutely still, like an enormous mirror reflecting the sky and passing clouds above. All
is quiet and serene and peaceful. Then suddenly, all can rise up and begin pummeling the
unsuspecting beaches with wave after wave of disturbed waters, as if a giant hand has
reached down and stirred up the lake. Since there is no connection to any oceans, this can
be a very mystifying and curious experience.
I love to go out to the lake in the summer and walk along the water's edge, where I can find
tiny, minute shells shaped like snail or conch shells. No one I have asked about them know
what they really are or where they came from, but I have heard they are ancient. They are
so tiny and fragile that some of them I can hardly see or pick up. I would love to gather
them and put them in little baskets to display, but, like the Native American, I respect
nature and leave them as I found them. They are just another part of the mysterious beauty
of the area. If you are ever in the Great Basin area, Pyramid Lake is well worth taking a
side trip to see. And, if you catch the right cook in the snack bar in the right mood, she
might make some fantastic Indian Tacos for you!
Right now, our whole area is covered with 4 to 6 inches of snow and it is lovely, but the
true beauty of the desert can be seen in the spring when the sage and wildflowers come out
of their winter's sleep and give us their fragrant scents and colors.
If you have a favorite vacation spot that has Native American legends tied to it, I would
love to hear your adventures if you care to share them.
Until next week,
Walk in Peace and May the Great Spirit Bless you,
Phyllis Doyle Burns, Native American Editor
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